Cranberries are small berries that grow on cranberry vines in the wetlands of cooler regions. They are mostly grown in North America, although there are some small commercial crops grown in the colder regions of South America and Europe. The berries are mostly used for processed into products such as juice, dried fruit and sauce and are popular for their many reported health benefits. Only a small portion of cranberries that are grown are sold fresh because the berries have a sour and bitter taste. Have ever wondered how cranberries are grown commercially? Read on to find out.
How are cranberries farmed?
In the past cranberries were grown in wetlands, but most commercial cranberry farming operations no longer use this method. Today cranberry beds are created in areas with a shallow water table. The top layer of soil is removed to form a natural ridge and a 10-20 cm (4-8 inch) layer of clean sand is added to the area and is leveled out to ensure even drainage. Cranberry vines are spread out over the surface of the sand and are pushed into the sand. They are watered heavily during the first few weeks to ensure their root system grows and they produce new shoots. Fertilizer is also used during the first year.
Cranberries are harvested when the fruit develops the red coloring. In the northern hemisphere this usually occurs in the fall. To harvest the cranberries the beds are flooded with water and a harvester is driven through the bed to remove the fruit from the vines. The cranberries float and can be pushed into a certain area where they are pumped from the bed for processing.
Did you know?
Many people believe that cranberries are grown in a flooded bed, but the cranberry beds are only flooded during the harvest times.
It costs about $70,000 per hectare to establish a new cranberry bed!